This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 17th April 2011
Following in the wake of just about every light French film to hit our shores, but for once eschewing Daniel Auteuil’s crinkly eyes and neurotic edge, Heartbreaker recasts the mould slightly while making a bonafide star out of Romain Duris. Previously seen in such intense dramas as The Beat That My Heart Skipped and Paris, Duris is the master of suave, Gallic sulkiness, playing petty thieves and emotionally damaged dancers like he was born to the role. In his first romantic comedy he plays Alex, essentially another con-man, but whose goal is only to save women from marrying the wrong guy. Despite whiffs of Russell Brand, he doesn’t purport to fall in love with them, he doesn’t get them in flagrante delicto – and he won’t break up a couple if the woman is truly happy.
Aided by his sister (great support from the increasingly familiar face of Julie Ferrier from Micmacs) and brother-in-law, the trio perform like some sort of Ocean’s Eleven troupe, donning disguises and learning languages to ensure their target is caught in the trap, and then released, a free and happier woman.
Enter Vanessa Paradis (the French pop singer fiancée of Johnny Depp), the hardest nut Alex has been tasked to crack. Despite unconventional, gap-toothed beauty, she doesn’t quite convince as a leading lady à la Juliette Binoche or Audrey Tautou. Alex, however, could convince you of anything, and it is Duris’ flare and confidence that keeps the film running at quite a pace. Snappy dialogue, sharp editing and the Monaco setting and the early set-ups (Alex joining a gospel choir, cooking teppanyaki, helping orphans in Africa) are hugely entertaining. You will have the time of your life.